L'shana tova tikatevu to all of my acquaintances, friends, family, those I do not know, and even those I know, but wish I didn't.! We all deserve a time of reflection, the option of acting on those reflections to align ourselves more closely with our values, and committing ourselves to become what ever it means to be a better human and spiritual being.
As humans, we are the young ones relative to other life on earth with much to learn from other organisms. The first animal to transition from water to land, Tiktaalik rosea, lived about 375million years ago, the first land plant lived around 550million years ago. The first cyanobacteria started photosynthesizing nearly 2 billion years ago. The first Homo sapiens walked the earth maybe 300,000 years ago. As a Jew, my ancestors have been reflecting, atoning and committing themselves to be more connected to G-d this time of year (which means many things to me) for maybe 5,000 years.
Robin Wall Kimmerer in Braiding Sweetgrass wrote "..in Native ways of knowing, human people are often referred to as “the younger brothers of Creation.” We say that humans have the least experience with how to live and thus the most to learn—we must look to our teachers among the other species for guidance. Their wisdom is apparent in the way that they live. They teach us by example. They’ve been on the earth far longer than we have been, and have had time to figure things out.”" I will reflect this season on what the tall tulip poplar in my backyard, the great blue herons that watch over the lake where we live, or the 2.5 million ants for every human on the earth, along with every other organism can share about what evolution has taught them. I hope I can be aware enough to listen . And, I will wonder what the fish crows around my lake are trying to tell me when they call, over and over again, quite loudly, "uh-uh". They would make great university administrators- every request gets denied with a simple "uh-uh".
Last year at this time, my spiritual experiences at the Erev service for Rosh Hashanah helped me understand a spiritual need to try and right a wrong, leading to filing a law suit. Although that turned out to be an emotionally and financially expensive action I still feel very good that I did what I needed to do to try to correct an injustice
I would not usually associate filing a law suit with any sort of spiritual awakening. But, last year at this time, the high holiday season was truly a time of reflection and commitment for me. A sense of awareness, gratitude, and reciprocity awoke my spirit last summer on my evening kayaks under the Skypainter's works of art. So, my spirit was centered coming into the high holiday season.
Unfortunately, this year, although work is going well, I feel kind of spiritually lost and off center. I am hoping to find a new path to reenergize my soul.
Over the last few weeks, my mind, for the first time, was able to connect some of the many Jewish prayers that I grew up saying that made me uncomfortable- speaking prayers of gratitude and humbleness, over and over again, to a powerful force that was presented to me as an omnipotent anthropomorphic figure- with intense human anger and ego, with my naïve understanding of indigenous ways of knowing. This summer, some emptiness got in the way of a flowing spirit, like an air bubble interrupting the transpiration flow of water in a tall tree. But, at least I now see Jewish prayer in a different light and as a path to awareness, gratitude and reciprocity.
For those who celebrate this time of year, may you reflect well, commit your actions and spirit to be better, and find sweetness in the air even during a time with so much bitterness and anger around and within us (or at least me)'
And, thank goodness for my canine companions who don't struggle understanding who they are and why they are here. And, they only expect two meals a day, a few walks, a few pets, and a treat on returning home. Otherwise, they just exude joy, trust with no trepidation, and project what I perceive as love.